Tuesday, May 15, 2007

White House Pushed Ashcroft on Wiretappings

Former Deputy Says Program Implemented Despite Objections
By William Branigin
Washington Post
May 15, 2007

The White House three years ago briefly implemented a classified program, parts of which the Justice Department found to be illegal, overriding the objections of top department officials after failing to get a seriously ill attorney general John D. Ashcroft to sign off on it from his hospital bed, Ashcroft's former deputy told a Senate panel today.

Former deputy attorney general James B. Comey testified under oath that Alberto R. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., at the time President Bush's White House counsel and chief of staff respectively, went to see Ashcroft in intensive care at George Washington University Hospital in March 2004 in an effort to "do an end run" around Comey, who was then acting attorney general, and obtain recertification of the highly sensitive program. Under the presidential directive then in effect, the legality of the program was to be certified by the Justice Department every 45 days. ...